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see List of Salvia species
Salvia is a genus of plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. It is one of three genera commonly referred to as Sage. When used without modifiers, sage generally refers to common sage (Salvia officinalis); however, it can be used with modifiers to refer to any member of the genus. This genus includes approximately 700 to 900 species of shrubs, herbaceous perennials, and annuals with almost world wide redistribution, the center of diversity and origin appears to be Central and South Western Asia. Different species of sage are grown as herbs and as ornamental plants. The ornamental species are commonly referred to by their scientific name Salvia.
The closely related genera Perovskia and Phlomis are also known as sage; Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia). Some species of the unrelated genus Artemisia are also referred to as sages, a shortened version of sagebrush. Smudge bundles are made with various grey-leaved species of Artemisia and are misrepresented as “whitesage” smudges. The true whitesage is Salvia apiana, which has a delightful scent when burned.
Salvia species include annual, biennial, or perennial herbs, and a few woody based sub-shrubs. The stems are typically angled like other members in Lamiaceae. The flowers are produced in spikes, racemes, or panicles, and generally produce a showy display with flower colors ranging from blue to red with white and yellow less common. The calyx is normally tubular or bell shaped, with out bearded throats, and divided into 2 parts or lips, the upper lip entire or 3-toothed, the lower 2-cleft. The corollas are often claw shaped and are 2-lipped with the upper lip entire or notched and the lower spreading. The lower lip typically has 3 lobes with the middle lobe longest. The stamens are reduced to two short structures with anthers 2-celled, the upper cell fertile, and the lower imperfect. The flower styles are 2-cleft. The fruits are smooth nutlets.
Salvia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including (but not limited to) the bucculatricid leaf-miner Bucculatrix taeniola which feeds exclusively on the genus and the Coleophora case-bearers C. aegyptiacae, C. salviella (both feed exclusively on S. aegyptiaca), C. ornatipennella and C. virgatella (both recorded on S. pratensis).